Saturday, July 5, 2008

Ansteorrian Heraldic and Scribal Sympsoium

Last weekend was the major kingdom event for heralds and scribes. The only catch...

It was in Houston.

Well, the first thing I can say about this event is that ten hours locked in a van with six people--each way--will quickly make or break friendships. Fortunately for me, in this case it was the former of the two.

I knew that I would be attending The Kingdom Heraldic and Scribal Symposium months ago when i signed up to teach, but actually getting down there turned into quiet the little adventure all by itself. Untimely, the final party consisted of myself, my wife, Master Robert Fitzmorgan, Lady Katrine la Esclopiera, Honorable Lord Haldane Sparhawk and Honorable Lady Estril Sweet. in all, we fit the general "type" that was expected at the event, book worms, heralds and artisans of varying degrees. We pulled out of Mooneschadowe just before six thirty in the afternoon, which was about as early as we could mange between work and other conflicts. Children were left with relatives or friends across the board, and food was packed to minimize stops along the way.

Robert and I traded off driving as we went down, stopping for dinner south of Namron, and then making regular two hours stops for all of us to stretch our legs and the like. We didn't make it to the Canton of Westgate and to our host's place until close to 3:30 in the morning, and it was close to four before I was able to get to sleep.

The morning wasn't much of a break, we were all up by about 8:00 or so, and pulling out the door by 8:40. The trip to the site wasn't too bad, but between getting breakfast and traffic it was just a little nerve wracking.

I must say, the site itself was spectacular. It was a church with a wonderfully done design that just wanted to carry you back to the later 1200s. High vaulted ceilings and stone walls set the tone perfectly in the great hall, and the classrooms were more modern, but very accommodating and easy to work in.
The first Class I took was Vocal projection. Now, Ill be the first to tell you that I have some seven years of middle school and high school choir to my name, not to mentioned a decade of SCA bardic and voice heraldry. Does that mean that it was a blow off class? Hardly. I deliberately took it because I knew I was so used to doing things my way that I probably needed some 'retuning'.

My hunch turned out to be right; The class didn't actually teach me any factual information that I didn't know, but it did break it down into component parts and concepts that I had not heard before. proper breathing and breath support were suddenly more managable concepts for me, rather than the overly technical tasks that they had always been before.

I took the next hour off and hung out in the large hall, talking with old freinds, making new friends and then getting my head handed to me in a game of chess. Actually, the game was hardly one sided, was loads of fun, and the corisponding conversation was well worth the untimate punishment that my ego took at the end.

I must say that the next class I took almost justified the whole trip down there by itself. Lord Brian O'hUilliam taught a one hour course on the highly showy, highly persona based world of personaly list heraldry. This is exactly the type of thing that I was so eager to study, and while his overall presentation wasn't the spit and polish of a college professor, the materials, experiecne and research he was presenting were amazing. Its not just a mater of calling rounds at a list field with his game. When you play at beign a herald at that level, you are the personal spokesmen and mouthpeace for your employer. The pagentry, the drama, the flare... all of it was what I wanted to learn about.

After that... Lunch. I was going on less than 4 hours sleep and my stomach was empty. Fortunately, the event included a lunch as part of their site fee, and what a lunch it was. Rice and chicken, grapes, peach cobbler, rolls, and pleanty for everyone at that.

The afternoon was slated for my classes, three hours worth to be exact. Not a small investment in time or energy, but considering that that was why I came down, I was still all stoked and ready to go when two o'clock rolled around.
Now, let me be clear on something, my first class, the Site heraldry class, only had two people in it, (a sadly too familiar number), however, these were people from the southern half of the kingdom, from different areas, different cultures and different perspectives. So, I was ecstatic about this turnout, where I had been a little disappointed at previous showings at northern events or King College.
The first class went exceptionally well, with two more students coming in after the first hour. I told everyone that while I consider myself a good herald, as a teacher I'm always open for advise, and that got some chuckles, but no complaints so at least I didn't put anyone to sleep.

The second class only had one (another all too familiar number) but again, I was glad for this given the location and the fact that this was actually a baronial herald who had never had to do List heraldry the way we do it in the north.
Between Brian's class, and the turnout for my own, the trip was well worth the investment in both time and money.

The event ended in the late afternoon, and my party and I wound up leading a three car caravan around Houston to find dinner. It was a little wild (okay, very wild!) and a little hair raising, but we wound up at the Amazon Grill upon the recommendation of one of the other people in the party. It was a good experience, and I got to socialize with all sorts of people over dinner.

Of course, that was a large part of why I wanted to eat out down there. The chance to meet people, to get along with people, to make new friends... These were and are the major reasons for me to travel south.

Well, we got back to our hosts place relatively early, (eight o'clock... I think) and then all hung out and socialized until nearly midnight. We got up the next morning, ate at Dennys, hit a Half Priced Books and were then on the road by about 11 as I remember.

Again, ten hours (not counting stops and food breaks) in a van with six people... I think I got lucky because we were all still friends when we pulled into Stillwater at 11 o'clock.

But in all, it was definitely an event that was well worth the effort.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Province of Mooneschadowe
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"God Save the King!"

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